The productivity of your business trip often comes down to a seemingly minor accessory: the battery. If it runs out, you may as well watch the in-flight movie. Until a few years ago, you had two power choices: the older, less expensive nickel-cadmium battery and the newer but more volatile lithium-ion variety.
Times are changing. For example, consider Electric Fuel's new line of disposable batteries. They're easy to use, last up to 12 hours, and are ideal for travelers who don't want to lug rechargers, adapters or other bulky peripherals. Prices range from about $14 to $19, depending on the model. But these batteries are really meant to be used in an emergency, when the closest plug is miles away.
One of the most promising developments for busy road warriors is Rayovac's 1-Hour Nickel Metal Hydride Charger, believed to be the only battery charger on the market that charges high-capacity nickel metal hydride batteries in just one hour. It can accommodate either a combination of up to four AA or AAA batteries in one hour, or one nine-volt battery in two to three hours. As with other rechargers, this one's no lightweight. Price: $29.99, not including batteries.
But the future of battery technology may be even more exciting, says Donald Sadoway, a professor of materials science and engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a nationally recognized battery expert. In just a few years, he expects new batteries to become available that will last up to three times longer than anything on the market today. The new technology will also look different, using solid materials that can fit any device. According to Sadoway, "We're very close to being there."
Christopher Elliott is a writer and commentator and the editor of www.elliott.org.